Love's in a Hurricane

Employees make a difference during Isaac's onslaught

Love's, Biloxi, Miss.

OKLAHOMA CITY -- As Hurricane Isaac made its way through the Gulf Coast, the convenience/gasoline retailing industry did its part--as it always does. Oklahoma City-based Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores is one great example of that spirit. It was among the many that rose to the occasion.

"We've been doing all we can to prepare at Love's," the company said. Love's fuel haulers worked through the night on Monday to take extra fuel to locations that might be affected by the storm. Store managers made sure that items like water, batteries, snacks and other electronics were fully stocked.

It boarded up windows and wrapped some gasoline dispensers with shrink wrap to prevent damage. Employees made sure onsite generators were ready to go in case of power loss. They hung signs outside Love's locations letting customers know that although its windows were boarded up, our doors are open for business.

It had several locations in the predicted path of Hurricane Isaac and as of Wednesday afternoon its store in Biloxi, Miss., was hammered by bands of wind and rain. Officials announced a 7:00 p.m. to noon curfew Tuesday night in Biloxi. Love's was permitted to stay open to serve emergency personnel and highway travelers, it said. All employees at the location stayed at work on a voluntary basis during the curfew and said they are happy to work to help the community in this great time of need.

The onsite Subway served about 120 emergency personnel dining in on Tuesday night as they prepared to help the community as Isaac approached. Love's was one of very few businesses that remains open in Biloxi.

"We have nothing but admiration and gratitude for our dedicated employees and community members who are helping each other get through Hurricane Isaac," the company said on its website.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Love's in Biloxi was doing well, it said. Love's in Port Allen, La., was without power and taking all necessary safety precautions as workers tried and get power restored. Love's in McComb, Miss., was having power surges, but power was restored within minutes of it going off.

"We are thankful that we can offer community members, professional drivers and travelers a safe place to fuel up, grab a bite to eat and purchase supplies. We thank all Love's employees for making a difference in the community. Our hearts go out to those affected by Hurricane Isaac, and we will continue to keep you in our prayers," it added.

Love's has more than 290 locations and 140 truck tire care centers in 39 states,.

Meanwhile, state attorneys general around the nation activated price gouging regulations and warned retailers against taking advantage of the situation.

Two Mississippi gas station owners have been arrested and charged with price gouging during a state of emergency, Attorney General Jim Hood announced Wednesday.

Rajinder Singh, 50, of Madison was arrested at his place of business in Jackson by investigators with the Consumer Protection Division of the AG's office. Singh is accused of price gouging during a disaster. Once the governor issues a disaster declaration with a price gouging prohibition, a merchant cannot increase his or her average profit margin on products until the executive order is rescinded. Singh is accused of charging 17 cents over his usual profit margin at his Fuel Time gas station.

Kuldip Singh (no relation), 51, of Natchez was arrested at his business in Roxie by investigators with the AG's Consumer Protection Division. Singh is accused of charging over his usual profit margin at the Roxie Truck Stop, which he owns.

The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

"The price gouging prohibition is in place in the disaster-designated area to prevent merchants from exploiting a disaster and taking advantage of residents and evacuees during such a time of need and vulnerability," said Hood.